Changes During The Coronavirus
In response to the coronavirus dealers are faced with having to make significant changes to their operations. Everyone is being asked to practice social distancing but in some states shelter-at-home orders are in place, meaning that only essential staff are on premises. The severity of the situation in your specific region will determine the necessary measures required to operate.
Hygene And Cleanliness
In an effort to flatten the curve of the virus and put customers at ease it's essential to make sure that employees are healthy and facilities are clean. All employees need to self-isolate if they feel unwell or show any symptoms. Offering extra paid time off for employees who need to isolate is critical to prevent staff coming to work while unwell out of financial necessity. Dealers also need to modify their cleaning regimens so that surfaces are continuously sanitized throughout hours of operation.
Be sure to share whatever programs and protocols you have in place on your website and social media channels so that staff and customers alike feel safe and also know what is expected of them.
Service And Parts
Even in states with shelter-in-place orders service departments are still open as they are deemed essential. Dealers should equip all their customer-facing staff with gloves and require that they keep a distance between themselves and customers. Service details should be discussed before appointments via phone or email to limit face to face interaction. Vehicle touch points should be disinfected before staff get into them and once again immediately before they are returned to customers. Parts orders should be taken online or phone only and parts should be available for delivery or outside pick up only.
For years now dealers have been selling vehicles remotely via phone, text, email or their websites so adapting their sales process will not be difficult. Sales staff can meet with customers via video chat to discuss their needs and show them vehicle features. For those customers that would like to test drive, it is recommended that staff not accompany them. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer in the vehicle will also put the customer at ease during the test drive. Extra time and attention on behalf of the sales staff will instill customer confidence despite them being physically removed from the process.
It is extremely common for loan applications to be handled online and then via phone after the initial application so it will not require much adjustment to continue to put loans together without customers coming into the dealership. Again, if customers would like to discuss their options in greater detail that can be done via video conference.
When it comes to insurance and warranty products most dealers will tell you that they are less successful if customers don't actually go into the box so that they can be presented a menu. A menu can still be presented via video chat, screen share or phone though and current circumstances and volatility in the economy make a lot of the payment protection plans rather appealing indeed.
Customer service and satisfaction usually suffer if staff adhere too rigidly to procedures or what is considered normal practice. In the current climate dealers need to remember that customers may well have requests that seem odd or unreasonable; it's important to remember to take the time to understand them and do your best to address their concerns or needs. If you are flexible in accommodating your customers, you will be successful.